August 21, 2015

Excerpt from "de book of Mary" by Pamela Mordecai

Pamela Mordecai


Plenty hard to believe my son turn
thirty dis winter season just gone!
Not dat me never watch

every minute, each day, as him grow.
But is like you see and you don’t notice,
and den, all of a sudden dis big

somebody hold you face in him hand
kiss you on you forehead,
say, “Mums, I going now.”

Never mind how much time
I protest and ask why him must go
off alone to a place wid no water, no food,

not a green thing to lift him spirit...
“Mums,” him say “why I would
leave dis house, you and Gran, best cook food

in dis town, my sistren and bredren,
and de whole family, plus de woodworking, too,
all I love, if it was up to me?”

I breathe deep, gaze on him
from him head to him toe, one last time.
“See three loaf of new bread I just bake

in dat bag, and a wineskin your gran
send wid Judith daughter dis morning.
She say, send, tell her when you going.

“I going stop by de yard
as I leaving, to tell Gran goodbye.
Big thanks for de eats and de drink,

but you know my food in de wild
going be fasting and prayer, my Mums.
I sure you don’t want my Papa up so...”

and him turn him eye up to de sky,
“to vex wid me right as I start out?”
“Why you can’t pray here, son?

I will keep food and drink far from you.
I will honour your fast. Is a thing I do for
Joseph plenty times when him was still wid us.”

Him bend down and kiss me,
say, “Mums, dis not de worst.
Me must get ready for some dread things.”

When I go to answer, him put one finger on
my lip. “Hush, Mums,” him repeat,
“believe me, if de choosing was mine

I would stay.”
And him look round de room,
touch de big water jug, scuff de rug

wid him foot, take him staff
and walk through de door –
never turn him head round to look back.

From de book of Mary

Pam Mordecai

About Pamela Mordecai

Pamela ('Pam') Mordecai’s previous collections of poetry include Journey Poem (1989); de Man, a performance poem (1995); Certifiable (2001); The True Blue of Islands (2005), and Subversive Sonnets (2012). de book of Mary, from which “Jesus Takes Leave of Mary and Goes  into the Desert” comes, will appear in fall, 2015. In 2006 she published Pink Icing, a collection of short stories; her first novel, Red Jacket, appeared in February, 2015. She has edited and co-edited ground-breaking anthologies of Caribbean writing including Jamaica Woman (1980, 1985, with Mervyn Morris); From Our Yard: Jamaican Poetry since Independence (1987); Her True-True Name: An Anthology of Women's Writing from the Caribbean (1989, with Betty Wilson) and Calling Cards: New Poetry from Caribbean/ Canadian Women (2005). Her play, El Numero Uno had its world premiere at the Loraine Kimsa Theatre for Young People in Toronto in 2010. In spring 2014, she was a fellow at the prestigious Yaddo artists' community in upstate New York Pam and her family immigrated to Canada in 1994. She lives with her husband, Martin, in Kitchener, Ontario.

August 19, 2015

Deadline Extended: Interviewing the Caribbean (IC)

Opal Palmer Adisa

Interviewing the Caribbean (IC)—has been founded by Jamaican poet and educator Opal Palmer Adisa. IC seeks poems, stories, creative non-fiction, and visual art in all media that celebrate Caribbean life. Caribbean artists at home and in the Diaspora are invited to participate. Submit by September 5, 2015u, to be included in the inaugural issue along with Junot Diaz, Leroy Clarke, Tamara Natalie Madden, and others. The topic for the inaugural issue is “Intellectual Property” (IP).

Description: “All too often, when it comes to intellectual property, black artists are the ones who lose the rights to their work (The Root, LaToya Peterson, May 15, 2011). Who owns your work? Does it matter? Many are the black creators who have not reaped the monetary benefits of their success. How do you, as a creative voice, ensure that ownership of your work—and the royalties that go with it—accrues to you? In recent years, prominent black artists—and their estates—have challenged intellectual property misappropriation in the courts.

Some well-known cases: The artist formerly known as Prince did battle with Warner Bros. Records for years before winning back ownership of the master tapes for his hit albums. Just this year, Marvin Gaye’s estate challenged Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke on the similarity of their song “Blurred Lines” and Gaye’s “Got to Give it Up”—and won.

Some possibilities to consider: How is the concept of IP experienced by Caribbean artists—writers, visual artists, musicians, and others? How are ideas about IP evolving in Caribbean society at large? What is the future for intellectual property rights for artists in the Caribbean context? (Works that cover other, but related, themes will be considered.)

Please send submissions of writing as Word documents. Visual artists, please send photographs as jpegs at 300 dpi resolution. 

Submit via email to

August 18, 2015

A List of Poetry Books by Jamaican Authors

Jamaican Poets

By Kwame Dawes

After my survey of Jamaican poetry appeared last week, I received many calls from people about how to get hold of some of the key titles by Jamaican poets. Of course, many of the works of these poets are long out of print, but there is a rich range and body of poetry that is still in print and that would reward the time and resources spent to acquire them. Needless to say, this list is an edited list - meaning it is selective and somewhat, though guardedly, subjective. It is, in other words, hardly comprehensive in the same way that the survey was not. It will reflect embarrassing omissions, and for those I apologise in advance.

There are a number of anthologies that feature Jamaican poetry that will offer an even broader range of work to supplement what I have listed here. And for those who are interested in watching some of the poets in action, I strongly encourage you to search out names on YouTube, where most of these poets do appear performing their work. Of special interest in that regard would be anything by Mikey Smith, Jean Binta Breeze, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Owen Blakka Ellis, Lillian Allen, Michael St George, and Staceyann Chin, to name just a few. Finally, a great resource would be The Poetry Archive in the UK, where some of our major poets are featured: ( [2]).

Olive Senior Gardening in the Tropics (Idiomatic, Canada, 2009)
Tony McNeill Chinese Lanterns from the Blue Child (Peepal Tree, UK, 1998)
Lorna Goodison Controlling the Silver (University of Michigan Press, 2006)
George Campbell First Poems (Peepal Tree Press, UK, 2011)
LKJ - Selected Poems (Penguin, UK, 2006)
Geoffrey Philp Florida Bound (Peepal Tree UK, 1998)
Tanya Shirley She Who Sleeps with Bones (Peepal Tree, UK, 2009)
Mervyn Morris - I Been There Sort Of: New and Selected Poems (Carcanet, UK, 2006)
Dennis Scott - Uncle Time (University of Pittsburg Press, US, 1973)
Ishion Hutchison - Far District (Peepal Tree, UK, 2010)
Ann Margaret Lim - Festival of Wild Orchid (Peepal Tree UK, 2013)
Edward Baugh - It Was the Singing (Sandberry Press, JA, 2000)
Velma Pollard - Shame Trees Don't Grow Here (Peepal Tree UK, 1992)
SharaMacallum - The Face of Water: New and Selected Poems (Peepal Tree, UK, 2011)
Jean Binta Breeze - Spring Cleaning (Virago, UK, 1992)
Donna Aza Weir Soley - First Rain (Peepal Tree, 2006)
Millicent Graham - The Damp in Things (Peepal Tree, 2009)
Colin Channer - Providential (Akashic Books, US/ Peepal Tree, UK, 2015)
Kei Miller - Cartographer Tries to Map a Way to Zion (Carcanet, UK 2014)
Mutabaruka - The Next Poems/The First Poems (Paul Issa Publications, 2005)
Neville Dawes - Fugue and Other Writings (Peepal Tree, 2012)
Louise Bennet - Aunty Roachy Seh: Selected Poems (Sangster, 1993
Claude McKay - Complete Poems (University of Illinois, US, 2014)
Mark McMorris - Entrepot (Coffee House Press, US, 2010)
Benjamin Zephaniah Too Black, Too Strong (Bloodaxe Books, UK, 2001)
Pamela Mordecai - Subversive Sonnets (TSAR Publications, Canada, 2012)
Louis Simpson - Struggling Times (BOA US, 2009)
Marcia Douglas - Electricity Cone to Cocoa Bottom (Peepal Tree, UK, 1999)
Opal Palmer Adisa - 4-Headed Woman (Tia Chucha Press, US, 2013)
Ralph Thompson - View from Mount Diablo (Peepal Tree, UK, 2003)
Claudia Rankine - Citizen: An American Lyric (Graywolf Press, US, 2014)

Poetry books by Jamaican authors

August 17, 2015

Happy Birthday, Marcus Garvey!

Harlem, 1918

Passing him in the street, you'd never believe
that this "sawed-off hammered down black man,"
standing on a ladder so he could see above the crowd,
could lift thousands of black men, hard men, dice

men, to their feet-- that this round-faced Negro, 
who looked as if he hadn't eaten anything 
but "sardines, salmon and beans" from a can, 
and with shoes so cracked, you could lose a week's 

pay in the holes. But when he growled 
like one of those Hoodoo men from New Orleans, 
and stretched out his arms as welcoming as the mouth
of the Mississippi, he could have led us through Harlem

to the Nile, and we would have followed him past the white
men's rage when he said, "Rise up, ye, mighty people. Accomplish 
what you will," then, we rejoined, "Speak, Garvey, speak,"
and the Holy Spirit descended on the congregation.

From my forthcoming collection of poems, LETTER FROM MARCUS GARVEY

August 10, 2015

On My Bookshelf: Providential by Colin Channer

Colin Channer

Channer’s debut poetry collection achieves an intimate and lyric meditation on family, policing, loss, and violence, but the work is enlivened by humour, tenderness, and the rich possibilities that come from honest reflection. Combined with a capacity to offer physical landscapes with painterly sensitivity and care, a graceful mining of the nuances of Jamaican patwa and American English, and a judicious use of metaphor and similie, Providential is a work of “heartical” insight and vulnerability.

No one, since Claude McKay’s folksy Constab Ballads of 1912, has attempted to tackle the unlikely literary figure of the Jamaican policeman. Now, over a century later, drawing on his own family knowledge of the world of the police, on the complex dynamic of his relationship with his father, and framed within the humane principles of Rasta and reggae, Channer has both explored the colonial origins of that police culture and brought us up to date in necessary ways. Here are poems that manage to turn the complex relationships between a man and his father, a man and his mother, and man and his country and a man and his children, into something akin to grace. Providential does not read like a novelist’s one-off flirtation with poetry, but an accomplished overture to what ought to be a remarkable literary journey for a writer of immense talent and versatility.

“…Written with pitch-perfect rhythm and a keen eye for supple, limber turns.” —Lorna Goodison, author of From Harvey River

“Channer writes with a moving vulnerability and much lyric grace, revealing new facets to familiar themes—home, family, history, and the evolving journey of self. A universal, timeless meditation.”
—Chris Abani, author of The Secret History of Las Vegas

Born in Jamaica to a pharmacist and cop. Colin Channer is named by Junot Díaz calls him “one of the Caribbean Diaspora’s finest writers.”

August 4, 2015


Rootz Foundation Inc. in association with the City of Lauderdale Lakes
Present The:
Sunday, August 16, 2015
4.00 p.m. – 10.00 p.m.
Lauderdale Lakes Educational & Cultural Center
3850 W. Oakland Park Blvd.,
Lauderdale Lakes, Fl 33311
Matinee Screenings

4.00 p.m. : “First Rasta” – A documentary by Helene Lee

5.15 p.m. : “COINTELPRO 101” – From the Freedom Archives

Feature Presentation
6.30 p.m. : Mumia Abu Jamal Long Distance Revolutionary -
A film by Stephen Vittoria
Marcus Garvey Community Service
Dermot Hussey – Sirius/XM Radio Host
Andrea Williams – “Running African” Host IRIE FM Radio
Willie Stewart – Chairman of Embrace Music Foundation
Norman “Humble Lion” Lawrence – WAVS Radio Personality
Ikus Music Recording Artist
Singing His Brand New Debut Release
“Tears of Color”/”Lagrimas Con Color”

Ras Abuna, Ras Ijah & Phil Watkis
Live In Concert
Go Green Fashionista
ROOTZ Fashion Show
Highlighting fashion of Africa, Brazil, Spain & the Caribbean
MC: Yvette Marshall of WAVS 1170AM Radio
Food * Refreshments * Books * Cultural Items
On Sale
Entry Free
For More Info: (Tel) 754-264-2205 (Web)
Facebook: Rootz Foundation Inc

August 3, 2015

Light the White House Red, Black and Green on August 13


Light the White House Red, Black and Green on August 13 to honor Black people "held to serve or labor" who built it.

I recently read how the contributions of Black people "held to serve or labor" involved in building the White House have yet to be acknowledged in a real meaningful way. Although President Obama mentioned this in his remarks during the 50th anniversary of the March from Selma to Montgomery and First Lady Obama mentioned it as well, we think something more significant is needed.
August 13, 2015, marks 95 years since the designation of the colors Red, Black and Green as symbolizing Black people. This was done as part of the Declaration of Rights of the Negro People of the World on August 13, 1920.
For years, the Empire State Building has been lit Red, Black and Green to honor Dr. King, on his birthday. Light the White House Red, Black and Green on August 13, 2015, to honor the unpaid labor.

August 1, 2015

Happy Emancipation Day!

Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery;
None but ourselves can free our minds.
Have no fear for atomic energy,
'Cause none of them can stop the time.
How long shall they kill our prophets,
While we stand aside and look? Ooh!
Some say it's just a part of it:
We've got to fulfill the book.

Bob Marley, "Redemption Song."